Comment: Ipswich Town's board simply had to act

Roy Keane provided me with one of my greatest, most exciting and memorable days as an Ipswich Town reporter.

After a decade in the job, I'd never experienced anything like the media circus that rolled into town for his very first press conference.

The army of reporters, photographers and cameramen, fierce heat of countless bulbs and spaghetti-like mountain of leads and cables made it a day none of us will forget.

Very sadly, though, that was about as good as it got.

Since then, it's been downhill all the way and what could have been a spectacular relationship between legendary player and famous, much-loved football club has turned sour.

Yes, the press conferences, spats and golden quotes will live long in the memory.

On the pitch, though, it's undoubtedly been regression rather than progression and something had to give – sooner rather than later.

Keane's reign will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, as one of bitter frustration and under-achievement.

In a results-driven business, it simply wasn't good enough and, on current form, Town looked a better bet for League One than the Barclays Premier League.

Keane had to go and seven defeats in nine games – four points from a possible 27 – left them hovering perilously above the trapdoor. That was despite a bright start in which they hit second.

Last season was just as turgid.

Town finished 15th after making their worst-ever start to a campaign, not winning a game until the last day of October.

A less-patient club would have dropped the axe a year ago.

While the results undoubtedly dictated Keane's fate, there were other major issues stemming from his management.

It would be unfair to say he lost the players because, for all their faults, no-one could question the commitment or endeavour, right to the end.

However, the tactics and style of football were both controversial and questionable.

Town became unenjoyable to watch – a statement testified by falling attendances.

Yes, they worked hard but flair, imagination, creativity and, most crucially, goals were always in worryingly short supply.

Keane's judgements in terms of signings, selections and substitutions could also be questioned.

Damien Delaney was an excellent acquisition, as was Grant Leadbitter.

But others, both permanent and temporary, have been flops.

Such inadequacy led to restlessness in the stands.

Fans voted with their feet as falling crowds, coupled with growing unrest, boos and taunts, heaped more pressure on Keane's shoulders.

He was quick to hit back at his critics, at one point questioning their knowledge of the game, and perhaps falling out with supporters represented the beginning of the end.

With no sign of improvement, alarming form and no chinks of light, the club's board simply had to take action.

At least the new man will have half a season, plus a transfer window, to try and address the situation and revive fortunes.

And assuming he's appointed early next week, what better way to start than with a glamour Carling Cup semi-final first leg against Arsenal next Wednesday?

Without a shadow of doubt, it was time for action but things certainly won't be the same without Roy Keane.

He certainly won't be forgotten at Portman Road.

Sadly, however, that's more for the wrong reasons than the right ones.

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